*a Living dance, performed in the country of origin (or immigrant communities) as part of a social event like a wedding where others can participate (not for an audience) by people who learned the dance informally (from friends and relatives by observation and imitation, not in a classroom situation).
Čoček, and its equivalent in other Balkan languages, is a term with MANY meanings, including a music style, a solo dance, several choral dances, and others. The word stems from the Turkish köçek. According to Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%B6%C3%A7ek “The Turkish word is derived from the Persian word kuchak, meaning “little”, “small”, or “young”, which itself is the Persian pronunciation of the Turkish word küçük, “little”. In the Crimean Tatar language, the word köçek means “baby camel.“
Wikipedia also says “The köçek (plural köçekler in Turkish) was typically a very handsome young male rakkas, or dancer, who usually cross-dressed in feminine attire, and was employed as an entertainer. They were recruited from among the ranks of the non-Muslim subject nations of the empire, such as Jews, Romani, Greeks and Albanians. The dances, collectively known as köçek oyunu, blended Arab, Greek, Assyrian and Kurdish elements (Karsilamas dance and Kaşık Havası dance)..A köçek would begin training around the age of seven or eight and would be considered accomplished after about six years of study and practice. A dancer’s career would last as long as he was beardless and retained his youthful appearance….The köçeks were available sexually, often to the highest bidder, in the passive role…Köçeks were much more sought after than the çengi (“belly dancers“), their female counterparts. Some youths were known to have been killed by the çengi, who were extremely jealous of men’s attention toward the boys….As of 1805, there were approximately 600 köçek dancers working in the taverns of the Turkish capital. They were outlawed in 1837 due to fighting among audience members over the dancers. With the suppression of harem culture under Sultan ‘Abdu’l-‘Aziz (1861–1876) and Sultan Abdul Hamid II (1876–1908), köçek dance and music lost the support of its imperial patrons and gradually disappeared.”
More information can be found here https://azizasaid.wordpress.com/2008/08/31/a-question-of-kocek-men-in-skirts/ Köçek are still to be seen in some parts of Turkey today. For more on Turkish köçek, click here.
Čoček – the music
The meter can be 2/4, 7/8, 9/8, 10/8, but what distinguishes čoček music is the syncopated beat. For more information and examples, click Čoček – the Music.
Čoček – the choral dance
What is a choral čoček dance, you might ask? Think of a chorus line – the line of leggy dancers on a Broadway stage. They got their name from the Chorus – a group of performers in ancient Greek theatre. Says Wikipedia “A Greek chorus, or simply chorus (Greek: χορός, translit. chorós), in the context of ancient Greek tragedy, comedy, satyr plays, and modern works inspired by them, is a homogeneous, non-individualised group of performers, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action. The chorus consisted of between 12 and 50 players, who variously danced, sang or spoke their lines in unison, and sometimes wore masks. Historian H. D. F. Kitto argues that the term chorus gives us hints about its function in the plays of ancient Greece: “The Greek verb choreuo, ‘I am a member of the chorus’, has the sense ‘I am dancing’. The word ode means not something recited or declaimed, but ‘a song’. The ‘orchestra’, in which a chorus had its being, is literally a ‘dancing floor’. “From this, it can be inferred that the chorus danced and sang poetry.” From Greek: χορός, translit. chorós, we get the Bulgarian word horo, the Macedonian oro, the Romanian Hora, the Russian khorovod, etc. – all meaning a line of dancers.
Five basic step patterns used by choral čoček dancers.
1. Slavic Serbs and Bosnians like to do the Taproot dance, T-6. Step, step, step, ______, step, _____. Sometimes steps 4 & 6 are kicks, sometimes touches.
2. Basic T-6 variation (below): step, step, step, ____, step, ____, becomes step, step, S,Q,Q, S,Q,Q,
3. Qyqek (Albanian) T-4 – Kick, step, step, step, (Pogoniste) to a čoček beat.
4. Čoček in 9/8 – Q,Q,Q,S. step,step,step,lift or touch
5. Indijski Čoček 10×2 beats. 1st Generation dance
For more on Indijski čoček, click here.